As I come to the end of my three-year Command tour at 78 Sqn Swanwick, I wanted to share just a few thoughts and thanks from my time here.
The three years has very much been a tale of two halves, as I’m sure it has been for many. My first 18 months was dominated by the pandemic, the challenge being to keep the workforce motivated with none of the fun tools in the toolkit. The daily battle rhythm was one of keeping an eye on a rapidly changing workplace and medical policies, while ensuring the operational output of the Sqn was unchanged. We were fortunate in some ways that the stability and escape work provided kept many of us focussed through a challenging period.
With the award of the Sqn number plate on 1 April 2021, we saw a shift in the culture, almost commensurate with the lifting of so many Covid restrictions. The Sqn came to life, returning to all those things we love in the services, Adventurous Training, socials, Force Development trips, sports competitions and the like. We worked hard to establish our new Sqn identity and embrace the history that went before us. We marked a year of hard work, declaring final operating capability of the Sqn on 1 April 2022; we celebrated in style onboard HMS Warrior.
It was important that this event was not only attended by 78 Sqn personnel but by all those that support us and that is where our NATS colleagues come in.
78 Sqn is one of few entities in Defence that is fully embedded in a civilian unit. Visitors and our chain of command are always in awe of the close working relationship we have in the ops room to make things happen, whether that be the King’s Birthday flypasts, space launches or coordinating traffic so Quick Reaction Alert can intercept aircraft. The team absolutely works. That extends to the back-office functions too. There is an incredible amount of work that goes on behind the scenes to make the joint and integrated relationship a great one. Airspace management, safety teams, procedures coordinators, HR specialists, civil doctors, and the comms team just to name but a few pivotal partners; I have been grateful for their support. They have gone over and above to support the Sqn and some of my crazy ideas over the years and I will be forever grateful for their efforts to make all that we do a success. I know you will continue to support the Sqn and my successor, as you have done me.
As for 78 Sqn, we may be a small team, but we are a mighty Sqn. What we have achieved these last three years, from upskilling everyone in Air Defence, to establishing our own cycling club, and everything in between, has been amazing. I am so proud of the resilience the team has showed through a difficult period, coming out the other side stronger than ever. We have proven we are a capable, professional, and motivated team that can deliver great effect. It has been a privilege to command 78 Sqn and I will always remember the wonderful three years I have spent here.
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